In the Jeepney This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

May 10, 2011
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The sun’s heat beat everything it touched into a melting puddle. The busy and crowded street was filled with sweating people rushing and minding their own business and looking for the right jeep to board. I sighed; this is a normal day in the Philippines. I miss this. It was our second summer vacation that we spent in the Philippines, my home country. As I boarded the jeep that would take me to my aunt’s place, the clouds started roll in. Thunder rumbled and storm clouds hid the sun. Of course, I was wondering when it would start to rain.

I was in fifth grade when I moved to Lebanon and leaving my whole life in the Philippines didn’t mean much before. As a wide-eyed nine-year-old, I didn’t care much. I wasn’t homesick and I thought we were on a vacation. Then we were enrolled in school. Who goes to school on vacation? And it finally dawned on me that this was our temporary address. For the next three years, I’ve experienced touching the snow for the first time, visiting the tourist spots like “Baalbek”, and travelling to countries close to Lebanon which would be too far to travel to from the Philippines, especially Paris and Cyprus. We spend our summer vacations in the Philippines to visit our relatives and check up on our old house and two dogs. Travelling from Philippines to Lebanon includes two flights, one is three-hour flight and the other is seven hours. 10 hours is completely worth it.

I looked out the window of the jeep as the pitter-patter of the raindrops stained the plastic curtain. A mild shower started to pour. There were only seven passengers in the jeepney, including my sister and me. Jeepneys were nothing new to me since they were the most common public transportation in the Philippines. Jeepneys have the size of a van with a yellow school bus’s front and an open back. There is a divider between the driver’s seat and the passengers’ seats which are two long benches stuck to the sides and you lean on the wall. There are two long windows that have plastic curtains used when it’s raining and are rolled up if it’s not.

My sister and I were seated in different benches and across each other. Next to her was a mom with two kids, both boys. Next to me were two nurses and one of them started to roll the wet plastic curtains up. I’ve known, and practically lived with, the Jeepney’s system my whole life. A jeepney travels the same route and goes vice versa. The destinations it goes are painted on the sides where passengers can see it and board the right jeep. Each jeepney can hold up at least 15 passengers. We were riding a small jeepney, one that travels only within the city. We zoomed past a jeepney that travels much farther than locals! Those kinds of Jeepneys travel from one end of the region to the other end, they are huge and they even allow passengers to sit on the roof.

As I looked out the window, a gentle breeze was blowing through the jeepney. The little boy that was with his mom started tugging my arm saying, “Ate! Ate! Do you want one?” He held up his hand, handing me a polvoron candy. I kindly said “no thank you” and he went back to his seat with his mom giggling. Oh, I miss everyone calling each other Ate and Kuya. Here in the Philippines, older brothers or any older teenage guys are always called “Kuya” before their name. For example, my cousin, Aaron, would be called Kuya Aaron. The same goes for girls, but instead of Kuya its “Ate”. It is pronounced “a-teh” and not the past tense of eat. I call my older sister Ate Lala. Our grandfathers are called “lolo” and it is pronounced “loh-loh” while our grandmothers are called “lola” and it’s pronounced “loh-lah” and not “low- la”.

I bet you didn’t know that the Philippines is a tropical country. It only has two seasons: summer and rain, and yes, that means no snow. Summer lasts from March to June and the rest of the year is rainy. Every time I visit the Philippines, my friends are just starting their school year. In addition, there is no middle school in the Philippines, except for the international schools. The regular Philippines school system is that elementary is grades 1 to 6 and then there’s high school which is determined as 1st year until 4th year. After that, there’s college or university. Since I’m in 8th grade now, my former classmates are just starting their 3rd year in high school. They’ll be finishing high school while I’m just starting. They’ll be starting college when I was just finishing high school! They’ll have jobs while I’m still in college! No matter what, they’d always be one step ahead of me.

We were getting closer to my Aunt’s house and when I saw it, I kindly told the driver to stop and handed him our fair. As I boarded off the jeepney, I started to realize the massive difference between where I come from and where I am currently living. I still call my older relatives “Kuya” and “Ate”, and I still ride the jeep when I’m visiting the Philippines. I’ve gotten used to the International School system and it would be hard for me to adjust if I go back to the regular Philippines system. How did I adjust from my life in Philippines to my life in Lebanon? Hmmm, I’ll be fine as long as I still remember where I came from.

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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

proto said...
Jun. 8, 2011 at 7:11 am

good job!!!


Tita Amy said...
Jun. 7, 2011 at 5:43 am
Very expressive, you could be a future writer keep going. 
RoxG said...
Jun. 7, 2011 at 1:26 am
It was well written and I was fascinated on how you describe the different feelings and experiences that you had. Good job :)
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